Welcome to the World of Retirement!
Buckle up ... and stay busy.
Boomer reader Malcolm Kallman pondered the world of retirement and offered his perspective, decades after he reached that milestone.
So, you finally reached the big “R” plateau in your life – or maybe you will soon be approaching it.
Retirement can be a blessing. It can be a time to enjoy all the things you never had time to do. Look at it as a new beginning for you. Are you ready? What’s your plan? Oh! You don’t have one? Well what in the world do you intend to do?
Oh! So you’re going to sleep late. Hang around the house, the mall, the park. Do what you want when you feel like it. Eat when and where and what you want. Have more happy hours each day.
After the first week, life will be … Boring! Boring! Boring!
Keep it up and before you know it you will be old (not older), gray, and settling into a sedentary lifestyle. Suddenly you find there are no more holes left in your belt, you can no longer button your pants – they need to be two sizes larger, because you have put on some extra pounds. Your shirt buttons are popping off. You have become a lush. You’re spending almost as much money on booze and fattening nosh than you do in the grocery for healthy food.
You have become obnoxious. A bore! People are beginning to avoid you. Your appearance is slovenly. Your personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired. You let your hair grow too long, and you don’t shave often enough.
You are looking like a hippie more every day. You are on the right track to becoming a bum!
That’s what you have to look forward to if you don’t plan ahead.
You say, “You’re wrong! That won’t happen to me. I won’t let it.”
Ha! Famous last words!
If you are contemplating retirement anytime in the future, you need to sit down and seriously ask yourself: “What do I want to do when that time comes?” “Nothing for the time being” is not the right answer. You cannot simply go from an active lifestyle to doing nothing. It is not good for your mental or physical health.
The brain is akin to a fine watch or a delicate piece of machinery. You need to use it to keep it from growing stagnant. If you don’t use it, it will eventually literally dry up and cease to function on all cylinders. The same with your body. You need to do whatever physical activity you are capable of doing within your limitations. Watching sports and the like on TV is not in all cases always food for the brain. Remember the old adage: “Use it or lose it!”
If your spouse is still with you, make a plan together. If not, then you need to consider how you are going to cope with retirement alone.
Going from the business or corporate world to retirement is a big step down. I would strongly advise volunteering. This will keep you engaged and in contact with other people. Volunteering can be not only a very rewarding venture but it will also make you obligated – or responsible – to be somewhere at specific times. With most volunteering jobs, there is some elasticity with regards to hours. Given proper notice you can skip a day if need be. The slide down the slope to retirement should be slow and orderly.
Now for example, you may be a golfer and you will be happy to have more time to spend on the golf course. That’s good, but remember you can’t play golf day in and day out. It could rain or snow that would prevent you from following your passion. Furthermore, riding around the golf course in a golf cart is not exercise.
Join a health club. There you will get the proper exercise you need under the guidance of a trained professional. Also, you will meet people like yourself. You may even make some new friends.
Maybe you had – or wanted – a hobby, but did not have the time to devote to it. Now is the time to pursue that dream or desire.
Hanging out at the local library has innumerable advantages They offer various programs, one or more may peak your interest. Keep in mind, hanging out at the corner Coffee Shop is not the same.
That’s why I recommend having a backup plan or activity. Don’t worry, you will find that you will still have plenty of leisure time.
Let me tell you about a man I know and what he did.
In 2001, when his job was downsized he wasted no time in looking for something to do to partially fill the void it created. He was not an aficionado of golf, and had no real hobbies. Work had consumed most of his time. He didn’t waste too much time thinking about it, and he found someplace to volunteer. In the beginning, he worked four hours a week. Gradually he added more time – hours and days. He now volunteers two days a week for a total of eleven hours. He found volunteering to be the most rewarding thing he had ever done. Unknown to him at the time, he was off to a good start when the big “R” loomed over the horizon.
The following year, two events occurred in his and his wife’s lives to change their plans and goals. Her health took a downward turn, and the business he worked for the past eighteen years decided to go out-of-business. He became a part-time caregiver as his wife did not need him 24/7.
He still had time on his hands and consequently was spending more time at home.
He and his wife sat at opposite ends of the table, each with their own computers. She played several different games on hers which helped to keep her mentally active.
His memory of people, places, and things in his life were sharp and clear.
Prior to retirement, with the help of his wife, he started to write his memories of the past that became his memoirs. To date, this has resulted in filling eighteen large loose-leaf notebooks with thousands of pages, pictures, and supporting documents. In doing this he found he had something to say about other things in life. He voiced his thoughts and opinions in the way of mini sermons. That developed into his writing essays and articles about a myriad of subjects.
A few were published.
In between writing his memoirs, he and his wife started to make a family tree and genealogy of her family. They found cousins who wanted to be found, as well as those who did not want to be found. Everyone starting with her grandparents have been accounted for. With her keen memory
and powers of recollection, and he knowing how to do research on the computer they amassed a tremendous amount of data – plus pictures, stories, and documents.
He keeps very busy in his new vocation. He recently said to me, “Sometimes I am busier than a one-armed paper hanger.”
When he retired, the transition was easier for him. He already had his foot in the door of retirement.
In essence what he had done unwittingly was to have reinvented himself. If you would ask him how he likes his life now, he would say what Mikey, the little boy from the Life cereal commercials said: “He likes it!”
When his wife died, he immersed himself deeper into writing. He is not a writer in the true sense of the word, having had no formal training. Writing just seemed to come naturally. By being able to use a computer, that in itself opened up a new world for him. He had increased his knowledge about many things in the world.
There are numerous options available to fit your needs, and to keep you young, happy, and vibrant. There is no end to what you can do if you want to, and are physically and mentally able. But, remember, “One size does not fit all.”